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Updated 3:00 PM November 15, 2007




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Spotlight: Lift team leader values new role

Aquilla Robinson and the other 14 members of the University Hospital's Lift Team safely move patients while saving nurses' backs.
Aquilla Robinson, middle row center, and her fellow Lift Team members have been specially trained to lift University Hospital patients to reduce the number of back injuries reported by nurses. (Photo courtesy Aquilla Robinson)

"We wanted to cut down on back injuries for nurses. I can honestly say that none of my team members have complained of any injuries because of how well we have been trained," says Robinson, Lift Team lead for the day shift. "The only time I'm ever sore is from the work I do at home!"

The Lift Team was introduced in a six-month pilot program that ended in May. Robinson and other team members are specially trained to shift patients in their beds, turn them over, and lift them in and out of bed without causing back injury. In a profession where back injuries affect up to 38 percent of all nurses, a 64-percent reduction in lift-related nurse injuries was reported during the program.

"I didn't realize how much this type of thing was needed, both by the staff and the patients' families who see how much we're helping their family members," Robinson says. Following the pilot program, the Lift Team was approved and is now in the process of expanding to other hospital floors. "From what I gather from our meetings the nursing staff is very excited and looking forward to us coming to their units," Robinson says.

Described as a "burst of energy" by patient transportation manager Debra Cobb, Robinson has been working at the hospital for almost 22 years. Before joining the Lift Team, she worked as a transporter, driving patients back and forth to appointments. "I enjoyed the job, it allowed me to meet different people as well as familiarize myself with the hospital and all the different areas," Robinson says.

Robinson knew she wanted to work at the hospital from a young age, when her older sister Topaze, a hospital messenger, sometimes would bring her along to work. "Since then," she says, "I knew I wanted to work in a hospital setting, so it only stands to reason that when I was searching for employment my search would bring me here. Over the years I have worked with a wonderful variety of people and I hope that I will be able to continue to learn and grow as this institution grows."

As a Lift Team lead, Robinson says she is able to play a more important role to aid patients' recovery and healing. "It is definitely more of a hands-on experience," she says.

In a four-week intensive training period, lift team members learn how to use mechanical transfer and lifting devices correctly and are taught anatomy and physiology relevant to back injury so that they properly can lift patients manually.

"What surprised me the most about lifting is with the proper technique you don't need as many people to help with a manual lift as you might think," Robinson says. "I find this very useful seeing that I care for my 89-year-old grandmother. I never know when this might come in handy."

The team works in groups separated into three daily shifts. Robinson begins her shift by going through a patient report with the previous shift lead and then picking up her work pager, which starts buzzing immediately. "We have appointments and people that need to be turned every two hours. In one shift we usually lift over 30 people," she says.

Robinson also enjoys all the positive patient feedback the lift team is given. "I love it when they request you; when they say 'We want the lift team, nobody touch us until the team gets here.' That makes me feel really good. I like being able to play a small role in the healing process."

The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the University. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at

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